Answering Common Questions Clearly As Possible


What type of consumer unit/fuse box? Dual RCD vs RCBOs - (Domestic installations)

A dual RCD consumer unit usually has x2 RCDs splitting the installations circuits into 2 groups. Whereas an RCBO consumer unit has each circuit with its own RCBO which works in a similar way to an RCD. Theres typically 10 circuits in a domestic property.

What this means then is if there is a fault say on your Ground floor socket circuit, on a dual RCD consumer unit you will likely experience half of all circuits power lost, whereas in a RCBO consumer unit the same fault would only affect that 1 circuit. Having an RCBO consumer unit clearly gives you a better fighting chance of isloating and finding the problem in the event of a fault and lessens incovenience in the meantime.

In addition to this key benefit RCBOs physically take up less room than RCDs do which means a consumer unit of the same size will fit usually 4 extra circuit ways in. This is great if you need to add circuits such as EV car charger, hot tub, PV solar or surge protection device.

Also modern appliances each have somthing known as Earth Leakage, a typical appliance could have a leakage of 0.05mAmps each, when many appliances are fed from the same RCD this can cause an RCD to trip as the RCD has a threshold of 30mAmps of earth leakage it will accept before it trips, (actually most RCDs will trip at about 25mAmps).  RCBOs too have a 30mAmp earth leakage threshold before they trip. By using RCBOs on each circuit this means that the overall build up of appliance adding up to 30mAmp on any 1 circuit is less likely and this too helps reduce Nuisance Tripping. The 18th Edition of BS7671 now practically necessitates the need for RCBOs.

Cost difference, Dual RCD is cheaper to install than an RCBO consumer unit typical installation of a dual RCD consumer unit might be say £400 and a RCBO say £650. Clearly there are cost benefits to dual RCD. But taking in to account an electricians time to fault find when a fault occurs can be very costly, an RCBO consumer unit with a fault is going to be many times cheaper to find than an RCD simply becouse the electrician has a better starting point, namely he knows which circuit has the fault, he doesnt first have to try and work out which one of 5 circuits has the fault and then proceed to fiind it, its better to pay a higher up front cost on the installation of a consumer unit and save labour costs later down the line not to mention the benefits of convienience already discussed.

I feel that Electrcians who are still installing Dual RCD consumer units are doing there clients a diservice, things have moved on and prices have greatly come down to a level where the benefits clearly out weigh any cost savings that a dual RCD might provide.

I hope this short article is helpful and gives the clear explanation of the key difference between consumer units.



Smoke Alarms Battery or Mains? - (Domestic installations)

There are different types of smoke alarms, typically you have a stand alone battery only operated type you could buy from a local diy store, they usually have a single 9volt battery in them.

The problem with these is 1. they are stand alone meaning they cant communicate a detention of fire to other units 2. when the battery runs out they are useless to anyone unitl the battery is replaced. 3. They are open to abuse, the battery can be removed or the whole unit could be removed from the ceiling.

Clearly communication between smoke alarms is crucial especially on multi level properties. A fire occuring downstairs in the lounge while your asleep on the 3rd floor is a bad situation and you need to be aware of the danger as soon as possible. would you hear the smoke alarm from the ground floor?

This is where mains or 230volt powered smoke alarms come in nicely, not only do they have a continueous source of power but they also have a battery backup and can communicate with each other throught the 230volt cables.

Its now law for Rented properties to have smoke alarms. There are now Battery only type smoke alarms that come with a 10 year built in lithium ion battery and can communicate with other alarms using RF radio frequency. The installation of these can save a lot of mess and inconvienience as floor boards and carpets dont have to be lifted to install them.



Do I need a rewire?

This question comes down to really, what is the Condition of the electrical installation? and whats your plan with the property?, the key point is to remember that the electrics are the infrastructure of the property, buried in floors and walls, so if your aim is to renovate the place and add more loads it can be well worth just going for a rewire so you know its all new and will last until major works are done in the future. The last thing you need is to have to start rewiring parts afterwards.

If theres no plans on changing anything significant about the property then it comes down to testing, have an EICR done, this will show up faults and will put you in a better position as to if a rewire or simple repairs are needed or which option is more cost effective. A property with hundreds of defects may be just not worth the time or money to fix when a rewire could be easier and quicker.

An electrical installation even an old one can be servicable for decades. Theres no silver bullet to say when a rewire should take place. Theres no specific deate when a rewire is needed, each should be looked at on a case by case basis.

Having said that, Installations that have these features should probably be considered for a rewire as they will be very old. 1. old round bakelite switches and sockets present and in use. (could be as old as 1920s) 2. Rewireable fusebox in use. 3. Aluminium conductors in use. (1950s) 4. Lead sheath cables. (1950s) 5. ELCB device in use for protection.(1970s) 6. Lighting circuits with out earth (cpc) (prior to 1966). 7. Green goo leaking from switches and sockets (1960s / 1970s installations). 8. Single sockets throughout or sockets fitted to skirting boards.



How can I save money on my Electric / suspect faulty meter.

You can save money in the following ways..

  1. Switch to LED Bulbs: Replace traditional incandescent bulbs with energy-efficient LED bulbs, which consume significantly less energy and last much longer.

  2. Unplug Devices: Unplug electronics and chargers when not in use, as they can still draw power in standby mode.

  3. Use Energy-Efficient Appliances: Invest in energy-efficient appliances with high Energy Star ratings, as they consume less electricity.

  4. Air Dry Laundry: Opt to air dry your laundry instead of using the dryer, especially during warmer months.

  5. Lower Water Heater Temperature: Set your water heater temperature to 120°F (49°C) to reduce energy consumption.

  6. Weatherproof Doors and Windows: Seal gaps and cracks around doors and windows to prevent drafts and reduce heating and cooling costs.

  7. Install a Programmable Thermostat: Set a programmable thermostat to adjust the temperature based on your schedule, saving energy when you're away.

  8. Use Ceiling Fans Wisely: Use ceiling fans to enhance airflow during warm weather, allowing you to set your thermostat higher.

  9. Turn Off Lights: Develop a habit of turning off lights when leaving a room to conserve electricity.

  10. Seal Ductwork: Ensure your home's ductwork is well-sealed to prevent energy loss from heating and cooling.

  11. Limit Hot Water Usage: Take shorter showers and fix any leaks in faucets or pipes to reduce hot water consumption.

  12. Cook Efficiently: Use energy-efficient cooking methods like microwaving or slow cooking instead of the oven when possible.

  13. Keep Refrigerator and Freezer Full: A well-stocked fridge/freezer uses less energy than an empty one. Fill containers with water if needed to create thermal mass.

  14. Use Power Strips: Plug multiple electronics into a power strip and turn it off when not in use to prevent standby power usage.

  15. Opt for Natural Light: Utilize natural light during the day to reduce the need for artificial lighting.

  16. Install Solar panels or if you have solar use the energy when the suns out.

If you suspect your energy meter is faulty, speak to your energy provider, this is not really an area for an electrician to help you on, other than fitting an additional meter so you could tell if they both read the same. 



What is part P and what electrics can I do Myself?

Part P refers to Part P of the Building Regulations in England. It is a specific section of the regulations that deals with electrical safety in dwellings (houses, flats, and other residential properties) and covers electrical installation work. Part P is intended to ensure that electrical work carried out in domestic properties is safe and meets the required standards.

Part P of the Building Regulations was introduced in 2005 by the UK government to reduce the number of electrical accidents and improve electrical safety in homes. The regulations apply to both new electrical installations and alterations or additions to existing ones in domestic properties.

Key points and requirements of Part P include:

  1. Competent Persons Scheme: Part P introduced the concept of "Competent Persons Schemes" (CPS). Electricians who are registered with an approved CPS can self-certify their work, meaning they can issue a certificate confirming that their work complies with Part P. This reduces the need for separate building control applications.

  2. Notification: Electrical work carried out in a dwelling must be notified to the local building control authority unless it is done by a registered competent person.

  3. Design and Inspection: Part P outlines standards for the design, installation, inspection, and testing of electrical installations in domestic properties to ensure they are safe and comply with regulations.

  4. Safety and Protection: Part P includes requirements for protection against electric shock, fire, and other electrical hazards.

  5. Scope of Work: The regulations cover various electrical work, including new installations, rewiring, alterations, additions, and repairs.

It's important to note that compliance with Part P is a legal requirement, and failure to adhere to the regulations can lead to enforcement action and fines. Homeowners, landlords, and electricians should ensure that any electrical work carried out in domestic properties complies with Part P and is carried out by a qualified and registered electrician or a member of a Competent Persons Scheme such as NICEIC.

In most cases, DIY enthusiasts should avoid doing their own electrical work, especially for significant electrical installations, rewiring, or repairs. Handling electrical work without the necessary knowledge, skills, and qualifications can be dangerous and poses several risks, including:

  1. Electrical Shock: Working with live electrical circuits without proper training and protective equipment can result in electric shock, which can be fatal or cause serious injuries.

  2. Fire Hazards: Incorrectly installed electrical components, faulty wiring, or overloaded circuits can lead to electrical fires, endangering lives and property.

  3. Code Compliance: Electrical work must comply with local building regulations and safety standards. DIY electrical work often fails to meet these standards, resulting in unsafe installations and potential legal consequences.

  4. Insurance Coverage: Home insurance policies may not cover damage or accidents caused by DIY electrical work, leaving the homeowner financially liable.

  5. Inadequate Knowledge: Electricians undergo extensive training and education to understand the complexities of electrical systems. DIY enthusiasts may lack the expertise required to handle electrical work safely and effectively.

  6. Voiding Warranties: Attempting DIY electrical work on appliances or devices could void warranties, leaving you responsible for repair or replacement costs.

Instead of attempting DIY electrical work, it is strongly recommended to hire a qualified and registered electrician for any electrical projects. Licensed electricians have the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to carry out electrical installations, repairs, and maintenance safely and in compliance with regulations. Hiring a professional electrician ensures that the work is completed to a high standard and minimizes the risks associated with DIY electrical projects.

For smaller tasks like changing light fixtures or installing new outlets, you can still consult with a qualified electrician who can guide you or perform the work for you. Remember, electrical safety is paramount, and it's best to leave electrical work to the experts.



What does an EICR Electrical installation Condition report Involve?

An Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) is a comprehensive inspection and testing of the electrical installation in a property. The purpose of an EICR is to assess the safety and condition of the electrical system and identify any potential hazards or defects that need to be addressed. The inspection is carried out by a qualified and registered electrician or electrical contractor. Here's what an EICR typically involves:

  1. Visual Inspection: The electrician will conduct a thorough visual examination of the electrical installation, including the consumer unit (fuse box), switches, sockets, lighting fixtures, wiring, and other electrical accessories. They will look for any signs of damage, wear, or deterioration.

  2. Testing Fixed Electrical Installations: The electrician will use specialized testing equipment to carry out a range of tests on the electrical system. These tests may include:

    • Continuity Testing: To ensure the integrity of the protective conductors (earth wires).
    • Insulation Resistance Testing: To check for any deterioration or breakdown of insulation.
    • Polarity Testing: To verify that the live and neutral connections are correctly installed.
    • Earth Fault Loop Impedance Testing: To assess the effectiveness of the earthing system.
  3. Testing RCDs (Residual Current Devices): The electrician will test the RCDs, which provide additional protection against electric shock. They will verify that the RCDs trip within the specified time and current limits.

  4. Labeling and Documentation: The electrician will label all electrical components, such as circuits, switches, and sockets, and record the results of the inspection and testing in the EICR document.

  5. Identifying Defects and Observations: If any defects or observations are identified during the inspection, they will be documented in the EICR. These may include potential safety hazards, non-compliance with regulations, or recommended improvements.

  6. Code and Classification: The electrician will assign a code and classification to each defect or observation based on the severity of the issue. The codes help prioritize necessary remedial actions.

  7. Recommendations: Based on the findings, the electrician may provide recommendations for repairs, replacements, or improvements to ensure the electrical system's safety and compliance.

  8. Issuing the EICR: Once the inspection and testing are completed, the electrician will provide the property owner with a copy of the EICR. The report will detail the inspection results, any identified defects, and the recommended actions.

An EICR is essential for ensuring the safety and compliance of electrical installations in residential and commercial properties. It is typically recommended to conduct an EICR at regular intervals, such as every 5 years for owner-occupied dwellings and more frequently for rented properties or specific installations.



My electrics have tripped, what should I do?

  1. Identify the Tripped Circuit: Check your consumer unit (fuse box) to identify which circuit has tripped. The circuit that has tripped will have its corresponding switch in the "off" position or in the middle position, depending on the type of consumer unit.

  2. Turn Off and UnPlug Appliances: Before attempting to reset the tripped circuit, turn off and unplug any appliances or devices connected to that circuit. This precaution prevents a potential overload when power is restored.

  3. Reset the Circuit: To reset the tripped circuit, firmly switch the corresponding circuit breaker (MCB) or residual current device (RCD) back to the "on" position. For older fuse boxes with rewireable fuses, replace the blown fuse wire with a new one of the correct rating.

  4. Check for Further Trips: After resetting the tripped circuit, check if any other circuits have also tripped. It's possible that multiple circuits may have been affected.

  5. Inspect Appliances and Cables: Once power is restored, check the appliances and electrical cables connected to the circuit that tripped. Look for any signs of damage, loose connections, or overheating. Avoid using faulty appliances.

  6. Test the Circuit: If the circuit immediately trips again after resetting it, there may be a fault in the electrical system. In this case, refrain from attempting to reset the circuit repeatedly, as it can be dangerous. Instead, seek assistance from a qualified electrician to diagnose and rectify the problem.

  7. Contact a Professional: If you are unable to identify or resolve the issue, or if there are any concerns about electrical safety, it's best to contact a licensed electrician. They can perform a thorough inspection, troubleshoot the problem, and carry out any necessary repairs safely.

Important Note: Dealing with electrical systems can be hazardous, especially if you are unsure of the cause of the tripped circuit. If you are not confident in handling electrical issues or if there is any risk of electrical shock, always prioritize your safety and seek professional help from a qualified electrician.



How many sockets can I have?

Theres no limit set on the number of socket outlets that can be wired in to any socket circuit. If too many loads are plugged in it will cause the circuit breaker to trip. There should be installed enough circuits to facilitate the expected loads. Its always better to install more sockets then use extention leads and block adaptors.



How many Electric Showers can I have? Maximum demand and diversity

A typical house will usually have a maximum of 1 shower. This is becouse the supply to the house is usually single phase 80Amp. So if you consider that the loads of the installation, a 40Amp shower is like half the availible capacity. Then you normally have a cooker which is the 2nd biggest load of around 25/30Amps. Then power circuits could be drawing say 10Amps each. As you can see you can quite quickly get to 80Amp of load. If too much power is drawn then the main house fuse can blow, only the energy network operator DNO can replace it. If you blow your main fuse too often the energy network operator DNO can demand you. 1. reduce your load. 2.Upgrade your supply. 3. Disconnect you from the network.

The loads you can have comes down to maximum demand and diversity.

Assessing maximum demand and diversity is essential in electrical design and planning to ensure that the electrical system can handle the expected load efficiently and safely. Here's how you can assess maximum demand and diversity:

  1. Maximum Demand:

    • Identify Electrical Appliances: Make a list of all electrical appliances and equipment that will be connected to the electrical system. Include details such as the power rating (in watts or kilowatts) of each appliance.
    • Calculate Individual Maximum Demands: Determine the maximum power demand for each appliance by multiplying its power rating by the number of units expected to be used simultaneously. Add up the individual maximum demands to get the total maximum demand.
    • Demand Diversity Factor: In a real-world scenario, not all appliances operate at their maximum demand simultaneously. To account for this, apply a demand diversity factor, which is usually less than 1, to the total maximum demand. The diversity factor represents the likelihood of all loads operating at their maximum simultaneously.
    • Calculate Final Maximum Demand: Multiply the total maximum demand by the demand diversity factor to get the final maximum demand for the electrical system.
  2. Diversity:

    • Identify Groups of Appliances: Group appliances based on their usage patterns and operational characteristics. For example, lighting, heating, and kitchen appliances might form separate groups.
    • Determine Diversity Factor for Each Group: Research typical usage patterns and behaviors to estimate the diversity factor for each group. This factor reflects the likelihood of all appliances within a group operating at their maximum simultaneously.
    • Calculate Final Diversity: Apply the diversity factor for each group to the maximum demand of that group. Sum up the diversified maximum demands for all groups to get the diversified load for the electrical system.
  3. Design the System:

    • Size the Supply: Based on the final diversified load, size the supply capacity of the electrical system, including the main switch, cables, and circuit breakers, to handle the calculated demand without overloading the system.
    • Consider Future Growth: Take into account potential future growth and expansion when sizing the electrical system to avoid the need for frequent upgrades.

Keep in mind that assessing maximum demand and diversity requires experience and knowledge of electrical systems. For complex or large-scale projects, it is advisable to consult with a qualified electrical engineer or professional electrician to ensure accurate assessments and a safe, reliable electrical system



Whats a DNO Distribution network operator? - Nation Grid for North Devon Area

DNO stands for Distribution Network Operator. A Distribution Network Operator is a company or organization responsible for operating, maintaining, and managing the electricity distribution network within a specific geographic area or region. The distribution network is the part of the electricity supply chain that delivers electricity from the national transmission system to homes, businesses, and other consumers.

Key responsibilities of a Distribution Network Operator include:

  1. Electricity Distribution: DNOs are responsible for the safe and reliable distribution of electricity to end-users within their designated areas. They operate the infrastructure that includes substations, transformers, overhead lines, underground cables, and distribution poles.

  2. Maintaining the Network: DNOs regularly inspect and maintain their distribution network to ensure its integrity and reliability. This includes identifying and rectifying faults, repairing equipment, and upgrading the infrastructure when necessary.

  3. Connecting New Customers: DNOs handle the process of connecting new properties or consumers to the electricity network. They process new connection requests, assess the feasibility of connections, and carry out the necessary work to make the connection.

  4. Metering and Billing: DNOs may also be responsible for managing electricity meters and metering data for some consumers. However, in some regions, this responsibility is handled by separate companies known as Meter Operators (MOPs).

  5. Emergency Response: During power outages or emergencies, DNOs play a crucial role in restoring electricity supply to affected areas. They coordinate with other utilities and emergency services to ensure a timely response.

  6. Compliance with Regulations: DNOs must adhere to regulations set by government agencies and regulatory bodies to maintain the safety and quality of the electricity supply.



What does Portable Appliance Testing involve and do I need it?

Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) is a process used to assess the safety of electrical appliances and equipment that are designed to be moved or "portable" in a workplace, business, or residential setting. The main purpose of PAT is to ensure that these appliances are safe to use and do not pose a risk of electrical hazards, such as electric shocks or fires.

The PAT process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Visual Inspection: A thorough visual examination of the appliance is conducted to check for any obvious signs of damage, wear, or other issues that might affect its safety.

  2. Electrical Testing: This step involves using specialized testing equipment to perform various electrical tests on the appliance. These tests can include earth continuity testing, insulation resistance testing, and polarity checks to ensure that the appliance's electrical components are functioning correctly.

  3. Classifications: After testing, appliances are categorized into different classes based on their construction and usage. The classes are usually denoted as Class I, Class II, and so on.

  4. Labeling: Once the testing is complete, the appliances are labeled with appropriate status indicators, showing whether they have passed or failed the tests, along with the date of testing and the next test due date.

Do you need PAT? The necessity for Portable Appliance Testing depends on your specific circumstances and the regulations in your country or region. Here are some points to consider:

  1. Workplace Regulations: In many countries, health and safety regulations require employers to ensure the safety of electrical appliances used in the workplace. PAT is a common method to fulfill these obligations.

  2. Landlord Responsibilities: If you are a landlord, you may be legally required to ensure the safety of electrical appliances provided in rental properties. PAT can help demonstrate compliance with safety standards.

  3. Home Use: For personal use, the requirement for PAT may vary depending on your country's regulations and your level of concern for safety. In some places, periodic testing of electrical appliances is recommended for households.

  4. Insurance Requirements: Some insurance policies may require PAT as a condition for coverage, especially for businesses or rental properties.

It's essential to consult with local authorities or electrical safety experts to determine the specific legal requirements and safety recommendations regarding PAT in your area. Even if it's not a legal requirement, conducting periodic safety checks on your electrical appliances is generally a responsible practice to ensure the safety of yourself, your family, or your employees.



Electricians seem to have a language of their own. Whats all these things mean?

Certainly! Here are 25 typical words and abbreviations used by electricians along with their meanings:

  1. RCD: Residual Current Device - A safety device that quickly switches off the electricity supply when it detects a fault that could cause electric shock.

  2. MCB: Miniature Circuit Breaker - A device that protects electrical circuits from excessive current by automatically switching off the circuit. These have in many cases replaced fuses.

  3. AC: Alternating Current - An electric current that periodically reverses direction.

  4. DC: Direct Current - An electric current that flows in only one direction.

  5. Ampere (A): A unit of electric current.

  6. Volt (V): A unit of electrical potential or voltage.

  7. Ohm (Ω): A unit of electrical resistance.

  8. Kilowatt (kW): A unit of electrical power equal to 1,000 watts.

  9. Fuse: A safety device that melts and breaks the circuit when excessive current flows through it.

  10. Earth (or Ground): The connection to the Earth used for electrical safety.

  11. Regs or Regulations bs7671 - A standard for electrical installations and safety used in the Uk.

  12. PVC: Polyvinyl Chloride - A common material used for electrical insulation in cables and conduits.

  13. NICEIC - National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting. A trade association that sets standards for electricians in the uk

  14. RCBO: - A type of RCD used to protect against earth faults.

  15. kWh: Kilowatt-hour - A unit of electrical energy consumption.

  16. SWA: Steel Wire Armored - A type of cable with steel wire protection often used for outdoor or underground installations.

  17. Conduit: A protective tube used to encase and protect electrical cables.

  18. Busbar: A metal strip or bar used for distributing electrical power within an electrical panel or switchboard.

  19. Circuit: A path along which electric current flows.

  20. Transformer: A device used to step up or step down voltage levels in electrical systems.

  21. Grounding: Connecting electrical equipment to the Earth to prevent electric shocks and provide safety.

  22. Load: The electrical device or equipment that consumes power from the circuit.

  23. Phase: A single alternating current waveform in a multi-phase electrical system.

  24. Multimeter: A measuring instrument used to test voltage, current, and resistance in electrical circuits.

  25. Earthing: The process of connecting electrical systems or equipment to the Earth for safety and proper functioning.

These terms are commonly used in the electrical industry and understanding them is essential for electricians to work safely and effectively.



What is Bonding?

Bonding water and gas supplies is important for electrical safety in buildings and properties. The process of bonding involves connecting different metal components of the water and gas pipes to the electrical grounding system. Here are the reasons why bonding is essential:

  1. Electrical Safety: Water and gas pipes are made of metal and can conduct electricity. If a fault occurs in the electrical system, electricity could potentially flow through the water or gas pipes, creating a dangerous situation for anyone who comes into contact with them. Bonding these pipes to the electrical grounding system helps prevent this hazard by providing a safe path for the electrical current to flow to the ground.

  2. Equipotential Bonding: Bonding the water and gas supplies helps establish equipotential bonding throughout the building. Equipotential bonding ensures that all exposed metal parts and conductive elements within a structure are maintained at the same electrical potential, reducing the risk of electric shock or potential differences between various metal objects.

  3. Lightning Protection: If a lightning strike occurs near the building, it can induce electrical currents in metallic pipes. Bonding the water and gas supplies helps to channel any induced current safely to the ground, reducing the risk of damage to the building's infrastructure and protecting occupants from potential electrical hazards.

  4. Compliance with Regulations: In many countries, electrical codes and regulations mandate the bonding of water and gas pipes to ensure electrical safety. Compliance with these regulations is crucial to meet safety standards and pass electrical safety inspections.

  5. Electrical Faults: In the event of an electrical fault, such as a short circuit or ground fault, bonding ensures that the fault current returns to the electrical panel and trips the circuit breaker or blows the fuse, cutting off the electricity supply and preventing overheating or fire hazards.

  6. Human Safety: Bonding water and gas pipes helps protect occupants and residents from potential electric shocks, reducing the risk of injury or even death due to electrical accidents.

Overall, bonding the water and gas supplies is an important safety measure that complements the grounding system, minimizes electrical hazards, and ensures the protection of people and property in the event of electrical faults or lightning strikes. It should always be performed by a qualified electrician in accordance with relevant electrical codes and regulations.



Why do consumer units have to be metal?

Consumer units (also known as fuse boxes or distribution boards) are electrical enclosures that house the circuit breakers, fuses, and other protective devices used to control and distribute electricity within a building. In the UK, Amendment 2 of the 18th Edition Wiring Regulations (BS 7671:2018) introduced a new requirement related to the material used in consumer units.

Amendment 2 of the 18th Edition Wiring Regulations, which came into effect in 2020, stipulates that consumer units in domestic premises must have a non-combustible enclosure (usually metal) to enhance fire safety. This means that consumer units made of plastic or other combustible materials are no longer permitted in domestic properties.

Here are the reasons why consumer units must be metal and how it relates to fire safety:

  1. Fire Resistance: Metal enclosures are non-combustible, meaning they do not burn or contribute to the spread of fire. In the event of an electrical fault or short circuit within the consumer unit, the potential for fire ignition is significantly reduced when the enclosure is made of metal.

  2. Containment of Arc Faults: An arc fault is an electrical discharge that can occur when there is a loose connection or a breakdown of insulation within the consumer unit. Arc faults can generate intense heat and cause fires. Metal enclosures help to contain and minimize the impact of arc faults, reducing the risk of fire propagation.

  3. Heat Dissipation: Electrical components inside consumer units generate heat during normal operation. Metal enclosures offer better heat dissipation properties compared to plastic, helping to maintain lower operating temperatures and reducing the likelihood of components overheating and causing a fire.

  4. Impact Resistance: Metal consumer units typically offer higher impact resistance than plastic ones. This is important in case of accidental damage, as a sturdy metal enclosure can protect the internal electrical components from external forces, reducing the risk of exposed live parts and potential fire hazards.

  5. Compliance with Regulations: The use of metal consumer units is now a legal requirement in domestic premises due to the aforementioned Amendment 2 of the 18th Edition Wiring Regulations. Compliance with this regulation ensures that new installations or replacements in homes adhere to the latest fire safety standards.

It's essential to have consumer units installed or replaced by a qualified electrician to ensure they meet the necessary safety requirements. The use of metal consumer units is a significant step in enhancing fire safety within residential properties and reducing the risk of electrical fires.



How do I know if my electrics are safe? - (domestic)

From a homeowners point of view this is a very simply task. Theres only a few areas that need to be checked and would take 5 minutes.

  1. Look at the consumer unit or fuse box position, look for a sticker or notice nearby than says "This installation should be periodically inspected and tested and a report on its condition obtained, as prescribed in the IET Wiring Regulations BS 7671 Requirements for Electrical Installations." Then there should be a date of last inspection and a date of next inspection. If its in date then all good, if its not then book in an EICR Electrical Installation Condition Report without delay.
  2. If there are any RCD or RCBO devices operate the test buttons there should be instruction nearby that says "IMPORTANT This installation or part of it, is protected by a device which automatically switches off the supply if an earth fault develops...." if the device trips and resets then all good, if not contact an electrician without delay.
  3. Check the date of your smoke alarms which should be printed usually on the side, and operate the test button to make sure they work. All smoke alarms have to be replaced every 10 years, if there non functional or out of date have them fixed without delay.
  4. Look for signs of Physical damage to sockets, switches, cables, thermal damage, fishy smells, arcing, over use of block adaptors and extention leads, if you have any concerns get an electrician to have a look.



Do I need a surge protector?

Surge protectors offer several benefits when it comes to safeguarding electrical equipment and devices from voltage spikes and surges. Here are some of the key benefits of using a surge protector:

  1. Equipment Protection: The primary advantage of a surge protector is to protect your valuable electrical devices and equipment from sudden voltage spikes and surges. These voltage fluctuations can be caused by lightning strikes, power grid issues, or electrical appliances turning on and off. Surge protectors absorb and redirect excess voltage, preventing it from damaging connected devices.

  2. Enhanced Lifespan: By preventing damage from power surges, surge protectors can extend the lifespan of your electronic devices. Sensitive components in computers, TVs, audio systems, and other electronics are vulnerable to voltage fluctuations. Surge protection helps ensure these devices last longer and perform optimally.

  3. Cost Savings: Replacing damaged electronics due to power surges can be expensive. Surge protectors are a cost-effective solution to safeguard your equipment and avoid costly repairs or replacements.

  4. Fire Prevention: In extreme cases, power surges can cause electrical fires. Surge protectors help reduce the risk of fire by preventing voltage spikes from reaching dangerous levels.

  5. Peace of Mind: Knowing that your electronic devices are protected by surge protectors gives you peace of mind, especially during thunderstorms or other instances where power surges are more likely to occur.

  6. Multiple Outlets: Surge protectors come with multiple outlets, allowing you to connect several devices simultaneously. This eliminates the need for individual surge protectors for each device, making it a convenient and practical solution.

  7. Easy Installation: Surge protectors are simple to install. You plug them into a wall outlet, and then you can connect your electronic devices to the surge protector's outlets.

  8. Different Types Available: Surge protectors come in various forms, including power strips, wall-mounted surge protectors, and whole-house surge protectors. You can choose the type that best fits your needs and budget.

  9. Data Protection: For devices like computers and networking equipment, surge protectors can help protect not only the hardware but also the data stored on these devices. Sudden voltage spikes can corrupt data or cause system failures.

  10. Environmental Protection: By safeguarding your electronic equipment, surge protectors can reduce the need for frequent replacements, leading to less electronic waste and a positive impact on the environment.

Overall, surge protectors are an essential investment to protect your electronic devices, extend their lifespan, and provide a level of security against unpredictable power surges.